The Senate passed bipartisan legislation today to simplify and speed up the process of approving a plan for a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River once consensus can be reached on the parameters of such a bridge.

Senate Bill 6195, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, would establish a formal process of coordination to expedite the completion of transportation projects of statewide significance. They require the state Department of Transportation to develop a formal application for the designation of such projects and also the criteria they must meet.

The legislation provides an important tool to expedite infrastructure projects while signaling the state’s continued strong commitment in Southwest Washington to work together with Oregon officials to address the transportation challenges.

“While we continue to promote the development of a bridge plan, we are also taking pains to make the process move more quickly once that plan is finalized,” Cleveland said. “This legislation has the support of the full seven-member coalition of Southwest Washington legislators who have been working together to move our state forward on this essential project.”

The other legislators in the coalition are Sens. Ann Rivers and Lynda Wilson, and Reps. Sharon Wylie, Monica Stonier, Paul Harris and Brandon Vick.

“A bridge can be viewed simply as a means of moving vehicles across water, but this project means so much more than that; it’s a bridge to our future economic development and prosperity,” Cleveland said. “Just as the existing bridges were the keys to our past economic growth, a new bridge is a key to future growth. If we want healthy communities, we need meaningful jobs that pay a family wage and businesses to be able to efficiently move freight and goods. For that, we need adequate infrastructure that can support the businesses that provide good jobs.”